Thirty teams arrived at the Johnstown High School track on one of the hottest days in July -- all with the goal of making a difference in the fight to beat cancer.

Thirty teams arrived at the Johnstown High School track on one of the hottest days in July -- all with the goal of making a difference in the fight to beat cancer.

In the community's first Relay for Life, about 230 Johnstown-area participants helped raise an estimated $27,000 that will be used for American Cancer Society (ACS) research, education, advocacy and patient service programs.

Various fundraisers were held prior to and during the inaugural Johnstown Relay for Life on July 18-19 at the Johnstown-Monroe High School.

Honorary chairman Richard Pizzuro, a three-time cancer survivor, credited everyone who came "out of the goodness of their hearts."

"Teamwork makes the dream work," Pizzuro said. "My passion is to eradicate cancer for kids."

One young girl, Olivia Good, stole the hearts of many at Johnstown's Relay, as tears flowed down her cheeks during the opening Survivor's Lap and when she was recognized as "princess" of the Relay.

Good, 7, has been free of kidney cancer for three years as of this month. She will attend Alexandria Elementary this fall.

Other Relay honorary royalty were Cliff Peck, 14, who was named "king" and Leah Cook, 13, who was "queen." All the royalty are cancer survivors.

Pizzuro, who served as team captain of Angels for Life, should have been presented the Silver Award for raising more than $2,500, said Mary Wiswell, relay chair. But there was a glitch, the team didn't get the recognition it had earned at the closing ceremony.

Long-time Johnstown residents Bernice and Ivan Booth attended the Relay. She is a breast cancer survivor.

"I have children in another state who have participated in Relay," she said. "It's a wonderful thing."

Both Booths complimented the survivor's meal they enjoyed prior to the official start of the July 18 Relay.

One hundred meals - consisting of stuffed chicken breast, green beans, cheesy carrots, mashed potatoes and strawberry shortcake - were prepared by Johnstown schools' music director Jeff Rings.

"A student on the Relay committee, Shelby Bauer, asked me to cook," Rings said. "My mom has breast cancer, and my dad died from colon cancer at the age of 26. This (Relay) is something I support."

Janet Kennedy attended the 24-hour Relay for Life in support of her daughter Lori Garrabrant.

"She had breast cancer eight years ago and it reoccurred," Kennedy said. "The cancer has moved around. We're all new at this. We started out with a goal to raise $500 and we've gone five times that."

The 13-member team called "Lori's Fan Club" raised about $2,465.

"Team Wright" boasted about 30 members, all sporting specially-made T-shirts for Relay.

Spokesperson Jill Harvey said the team included the "six Wright kids," including herself, Jackie, Tim, Janet, Jodi and Judy.

"We know lots of people who have cancer," she said. "Everyone did what they could to raise money."

Utica resident Don Robey, 79, had his last radiation treatment for prostate cancer on July 19, 2002.

"It went well," he said. "I have a lot to be thankful for. This is my first Relay."

Robey was a member of the Pink Crusaders, a team that raised $3,621 for the ACS.

Galena resident Belinda Jackson, a two-time cancer survivor, marked her 10th Relay of the year in Johnstown.

Prior to Johnstown's Relay, she attended events at Kenyon College, Ohio Wesleyan, Westerville and Big Walnut, among others.

Jackson, a survivor of uterine cancer, said the ACS has been there for her.

"The American Cancer Society is there for people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," she said. "I'm so thankful. I see younger people with cancer. I feel God had a plan for me. I'm an avid Relayer. This is tremendous for a first-ever RelayÉ

"You can Relay around the world," Jackson said.

"Some day I hope to say I'm a 20-year survivor," she added. "That one penny or one dollar may get that researcher a grant (to find a cure). We'll keep working at it until we find a cure."

Wiswell said plans are already being made for next year's Relay.

"I have heard nothing but positive feedback," she said. "We're already looking to next year; people are that excited.

"I think the candlelight ceremony was the most beautiful and empowering part of the whole event, Wiswell said. "Luminary bags were covering the whole inside of the track. A lady spoke about her husband passing away, and how they lived his last year. I don't think there was a dry eye."